I have been on the phone for what seems like hours these past few weeks, trying to take care of some of the things we need for The Torch now the food truck is actually in Brighton. I was on the phone with an insurance agent the other day and he asked a lot of questions about The Torch. After I explained to him as briefly as I could what we were doing with the food truck, he asked me a question which amused me greatly. He said, “I hope you don’t mind my asking, but these people you are planning to cook for, is there a reason they can’t get food stamps?” Now I get that is a logical question and has some merit - but the first thing that popped into my head when the gentleman asked, was Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. In case you don’t know the story, there is a point where some men come to Ebenezer Scrooge’s company to ask for a Christmas donation for the poor, to buy them some extra meat and drink and wood for their fires.
Scrooge is angry at their interruption of his work and immediately begins to ask them if something has happened to the workhouses and other governmental establishments for the poor. The gentlemen respond many poor would rather die than go to those places. To which Scrooge suggests the world would be better off if they did die.
As a person who accessed the food stamp system I would agree it is a humiliating and frustrating situation to be in. I have never been treated so disrespectfully and rudely as i have by many of the caseworkers who dealt with food stamps. If you make one mistake it’s back to square one. You are denied and ignored and have to spend hours on the phone to get questions answered or help sorting through it all. When you receive correspondence from them you have an incredibly short deadline in which to reply or you start the process over. It is stressful and degrading to go through. Apparently the situation was similar in Scrooge’s day. And I’m not saying people shouldn’t get help through food stamps if that is what they need. Keep pushing through and do it if you need it.
I’m also not saying The Torch is a replacement for food stamps or any other support system out there for people in need. We are not. Really? One weekly hot meal? We know better than that. Our goal - as we have stated repeatedly - is to bring a hot meal, serve it to people without judgment, and with a smile and to treat them with the dignity and compassion they deserve as human beings. We want to talk with people and get to know their stories and show them there are people in the world who care. We want our stories and lives to bring hope to others, because every single life has value. Every single individual is priceless.
When I look at the welfare system in this country it breaks my heart, because it is a worldly attempt to fix problems which stem from spiritual needs. And it ends up breeding contempt and indifference in the people who originally thought they could help. It also makes it quite easy for those who have never suffered to the point where they desperately sought help from any source to avoid thinking about human need on that level. It allows them to grumble about the money taken from their hard-earned paychecks and given to those in need, in actuality they are resentful of a broken system which cannot fix broken people.
I don’t know who will be standing outside that food truck the first day or the hundredth day when we are handing out meals. But I intend to find out, because God does know and He has a message for them. We get so comfortable we forget He is a God Who works miracles in people’s lives. He told us to go into the world and find people and reach out to them and not to worry about what anyone says about us, just let Him work through us. His call on my life for The Torch is strong and deeply felt.
God’s got this. So yes, some of the people who come to The Torch might receive food stamps. And yes, they might be receiving other assistance. And yes, that may be the only way of life they have known. But introduce Hope into those situations and who knows what God will do? I dare not question His ability to change lives. He picked me up out of the mud and cleaned me up and repaired the wrong attitudes of my heart. I have seen so many miracles and been blessed abundantly and it’s the least I can do to reach out to anyone and everyone who comes to the truck. I will treat them with dignity and respect and I will pray God’s love shows every single time we go anywhere. And I will keep going and serving as long as God guides me to it. It is my duty as a Christ-follower and I am humbled and blessed to take whatever part I can in addressing the issues of poverty and hunger. Because believe it or not, there are some things the government cannot fix.